If you purchase a home in Arizona, chances are it will be located in a community governed by a homeowners association or HOA. So, it’s important to understand what they are and how they impact your home ownership. In this blog post we put homeowners associations under a magnifying glass to answer some of the most common questions we hear from our buyers.
What is an HOA and what does it do?
An HOA is a self-governing, non-profit organization that makes and enforces rules for the properties within a community. Ostensibly, HOAs are created to maintain and improve the property values of the community by enforcing these rules. HOAs have a volunteer board of directors, elected by the members, to handle the day-to-day operations of the community.
Do I have to belong to the HOA?
When you purchase a home in a community governed by an HOA, you automatically become a member. You are obligated to comply with the rules and pay dues. Just like your mortgage or property taxes, HOA fees are a required part of owning your home. You will need to factor them into your monthly budget.
How much are HOA fees and what do they cover?
Your HOA uses the fees to pay for the upkeep and maintenance of the shared common areas, as well as insurance, management fees, etc. HOA fees vary widely depending on the amenities the HOA provides. In single family housing communities where most of the fees go towards the landscaping & upkeep of the green belts and playgrounds, fees are typically moderate. However, if you live in a townhome or condo complex where there are a host of amenities such as clubhouses, pools, gates, fitness centers, etc. your HOA fees will be much higher to cover the cost of those items.
In addition to the regular fees, occasionally HOA members may need to pay a special assessment. This is a one-time fee levied by the HOA to cover large or unexpected expenses.
- Outdated playground equipment might need to be replaced to make the playground safer.
- Roofs in a townhome community that are at the end of their functional life may need to be replaced.
- Storm damage to community amenities may need to be repaired.
In these cases, all the HOA members will be required to share these costs and this is done by a special assessment.
How restrictive are HOA rules?
HOAs have a lot of power over how you maintain and live in your home. Some examples of HOA rules include:
- Architectural controls – you will probably need prior approval to change your paint color or install an RV gate.
- Lawn upkeep – HOAs typically have a list of what plants are required to be in your yard and will expect you to maintain your lawn and keep weeds pulled.
- Parking rules – If you have multiple vehicles you may not be allowed to park them on the street. Many HOAs restrict people from parking trailers and RVs in their driveways.
- Home maintenance standards – You’re expected to keep your home in repair and many HOAs will dictate when it’s time to have your home repainted.
- Short-term rental restrictions – As the vacation rental industry has boomed many HOAs are beginning to prohibit short term rentals such as Airbnb or VRBO as vacationers are more likely to ignore such things as parking rules, etc.
How can I find out what the HOA rules are?
Before making an offer on a home, you can ask your Realtor® to get a copy of the HOA’s bylaws and Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs). These outline the community’s rules & regulations. You should review these documents carefully so you can decide if you would be willing to abide by these rules.
Advantages of living in an HOA.
Although some may find that HOA rules are too restrictive, others appreciate the fact that these very rules are what make their community a pleasant place to live. Some advantages of HOAs include:
- Communal areas – HOAs provide such things as parks, playgrounds, sport courts, walking & biking paths, etc. They also ensure that these areas are beautiful and well-maintained.
- Amenities – You might have access to swimming pools, clubhouses & gyms.
- Property values – your home’s property value will benefit from more stability due to the rules governing the maintenance & appearance of the homes in your community.
- Community activities – Many HOAs sponsor community events where you can mingle with and get to know your neighbors.
- Dispute mediation – HOA boards will hear and mediate disputes between neighbors for issues that violate HOA rules (e.g., barking dogs or trashed yards, etc.).
The Bottom Line.
Living in an HOA has its pros & cons. On one hand, there are the benefits of living in a well-maintained neighborhood that may have more amenities than one without an HOA. On the other hand, you’ll have to abide by the HOA rules and there is the added cost of the HOA fees. You’ll need to weigh these pros and cons carefully to determine if living in an HOA is right for you.
Contact The Donnelly Group!
Whether you like the idea of living in an HOA governed community, or you would never in a million years contemplate it, contact the Donnelly Group at 480-792-9700 or by email. Our team of Realtors® will help you find just the kind of property you are looking for!